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How can a new teacher build a rapport with students that balances friendliness with professional distance?

Dec 30, 2015 10:15am

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    • Jan 5, 2016 5:35pm

      Thank you for the links Michael. Jessica- If you have any specific questions, please let us know!

      • Mar 11, 2016 12:55pm

        Building a rapport with students can be difficult, and the student(s) don't always cooperate. The ones who don't cooperate are usually the ones with whom a teacher most needs to establish a rapport!
        The classroom environment is very important to building rapport. Students must respect the teacher and also feel respected in turn. This happens best in a room where there are clear expectations of student and teacher behavior. By clearly delineating what is and is not appropriate, a professional environment is established that also helps grow rapport.
        Building a relationship with a student can often require one-on-one contact. Something as simple as a short conversation over lunch about whatever interests the student builds rapport, but it can also seem to discard professional detachment. My feeling, however, is that such a conversation can remain professional as long as it is confined to appropriate topics, and no favoritism is being practiced.

        • Mar 24, 2016 6:11pm

          I agree with William Steele in that one of the most important steps a new teacher must take in order to build successful rapport with students is to communicate clear expectations for the students and the teacher. The more specific the expectations, the less grey area that exists which can lead to variations in interpretation or an avenue for students to test boundaries. Teachers must also adhere to the clearly communicated expectations because this models to the students that the teacher is committed to the classroom standard.

          Another important step in building successful rapport with students is body language while communicating with students. Eye contact conveys to students that you are giving them your undivided attention. They matter and you are interested in what they have to say. Knowing your students provides insight on how to connect with them in your lessons. Keeping an appropriate distance when communicating with students is also a sound way to maintain professionalism while engaging in friendly, yet
          appropriate, conversation.

          • Mar 26, 2016 9:17am

            I agree with the above posts in regard to classroom environment and its affect on rapport and professional distance. I think that the most important thing that a new teacher can do in order to build rapport and maintain professional distance is to establish and maintain effective rules and procedures in the classroom. When effective rules and procedures are established two things happen: first, the professional distance between students and teachers are naturally maintained by these expected classroom behaviors; second, a safe environment will be created in the classroom, which allows for rapport to be built between teacher and students. There are many other ways for a teacher to appropriately build rapport with students both inside and outside the classroom, but I think that new teachers should focus first and foremost on maintaining a safe and learning-filled environment through the use of rules and procedures.

            • Mar 27, 2016 6:26pm

              You have all made excellent points. One of the important factors, I feel, that helps to build rapport with the students is giving them respect. I feel like a lot of time, when we think about our future classrooms, we get nervous and determined to make the room ours. While it is important to be in control, the students also need to feel safe and respected in the classroom. They need to feel as if they have a say as well. We, as educators, need to respect the fact that they too need to express themselves. The students need to feel as if they can present their opinions and ideas in order to further their learning. While a behaviorist approach to teaching is considered an appropriate method, students gain more when they too are respected enough to have a say in where the discussion goes. When students feel as if their opinions are heard and appreciated, they will form a much better rapport with their teacher.

              • Mar 28, 2016 3:09pm

                A new teacher can build a rapport with students by being respectful and showing that they care. When teachers inquire about students' lives outside of the classroom (ex: favorite thing to do on the weekends, activities/hobbies, favorite pets) it builds a level of trust and most likely students will open up to the teacher more. Teachers should also give students regular feedback, not only telling them how they can improve but giving them compliments on things that they do well. Being in constant communication with students about their performance shows them that you care about their accomplishments. It will help motivate them to continue to set and achieve goals.

                In order to maintain professionalism, teachers should remember to treat all students the same (meaning, not favoring some students over others). Teachers should also be mindful of conversations with students. Adding students to personal social media pages, or giving out personal phone numbers should be avoided. Teachers should also be mindful of physical interaction with students. For example, a quick pat on the shoulder or back may be appropriate but holding hands or hugging may not be appropriate; the students age may be something to consider.

                • Mar 29, 2016 2:07pm

                  I think that creating a positive environment with positive reinforcements will be a big factor in creating a rapport with your students. Giving students this type of environment will allow them to feel comfortable, being that you won’t always be focused on the negative but instead focused on building them up. You should be interested in their lives, as well as share happenings in your own life. Sharing things from outside the classroom will show students you have a life outside of teaching and give you a chance to find things you have in common with your students. Knowing a little bit about your students lives outside of the classroom will also give you a chance to embed some of their interests into lesson plans keeping students engaged.

                  I agree with Jessica that treating all students the same and being mindful of conversations with students is a great way to maintain professionalism. You need to be aware of what’s appropriate and what is inappropriate when interacting with students. For example, connecting through personal social media accounts or personal phone numbers is inappropriate. Attending school events, such as sporting events to support students would be appropriate and let students know you care what is going on outside of class.

                  • Mar 30, 2016 9:51am

                    To build a rapport with students can be tricky for new teachers. First impressions are very important in the classroom, so welcome them with a friendly smile. Show your personality to the students so they feel comfortable enough to show theirs, but keep it professional and acceptable. Additionally, maintain a welcoming and organized classroom so the students feel safe. I agree with the previous posts that establishing clear rules and procedures is key. It will enable the professional tone to be set early on. I also believe that the consequences should also be explained on the first day so that the students know what the outcome will be if they choose to misbehave. Finally, I agree with Jessica that all students should be treated the same. Consistency is the key in both rewarding students and punishing them. If you compliment one student, make sure you are giving other students the same accolades that are deserving.

                    • Mar 30, 2016 2:10pm

                      I agree with everyone's responses. I believe the most important thing to build a balanced rapport with students is to show students respect. Students need to feel respected and safe in their learning environment in order to grow. Letting your students know that they can come to you with questions and you respect their opinions and ideas shows students that you have respect for them as a person. I also like the idea of showing interest in the student’s lives outside of the classroom. Going to student’s games and outside activities can be a great way to grow that relationship inside the classroom. Setting boundaries and enforcing them is huge. Making sure you are enforcing the boundaries the same for everything student is very important to maintain that balanced rapport.

                      • Mar 30, 2016 2:46pm

                        I agree with the answers above. I believe that the best thing you can do to build rapport with students is to respect them. If you seek to understand a student, that student is likely to understand you care about his or her success and they will look forward to succeeding to make you happy.
                        Respecting students backgrounds and the fact that they have lives outside of your class can build rapport in my opinion as well. This can be as simple as going to a students basketball game if he or she plays for the school. A simple inquiry about what your students did over the weekend shows them that you care about them and are ready and willing to invest into their lives.
                        When a student sees you respecting them, they're likely to respect you as a teacher. Being respectful also builds rapport in a professional way while still building a relationship in which students understand you care about their success.

                        • Mar 30, 2016 3:26pm

                          I agree with everyone's comments on this page! I want to build off Jessica's statement on respect. I think by showing respect to each student individually and the class as a whole will help build rapport. By being respectful, the students will feel that you care about them as students and people. Respect can come in many forms from personal space to appropriate language in the classroom. Some students do not feel respected when answered sarcastically, while others find it humorous and relatable. Finding a healthy balance is important.

                          I also feel that safety could be tied into this topic. Balancing friendliness and professional distance goes hand in hand with a students emotional and physical safety. If a student feels emotionally and physically safe in your classroom they are going to have a better chance at success. The classroom environment should be friendly and open to all students but still professional enough where no one crosses a line. The students will feel that they can be themselves and come to you when they have issues.

                          • Mar 30, 2016 4:16pm

                            I read an article awhile back that talked about building rapport in the classroom. It said some simple ideas for the first day of school: greet the students at the door with a smile and name exchange, don't be afraid to share a funny story that leads to laughing, and (I really like this one) promise your students that you will never yell or speak to them disrespectfully. The last statement is simple, but so powerful for the teacher and the students.
                            This article also talked about having a pin-neat room environment and detailed teaching of rules, consequences, and routines were the game changers (most important) to classroom management and building rapport. It's awesome that they said that because it allows the students have a clear understanding what is expected from them daily and what the consequences will be. To me, having a teacher tell you about their expectations, consequences, and routines gives me a sense of organization as a student.
                            To add to that article on building rapport, I will make sure (daily) my students know that my door is always open to them if they ever needed someone to talk to and know that I will always have their best interest at heart.

                            • Mar 31, 2016 3:32pm

                              As a new teacher, I feel that building rapport with my students will be my first priority. Students will not be willing to accept me until I have clearly accepted them. This will involve me sharing information about ME and them sharing information about THEM. This should happen before anything else does. In getting to know my students, it's okay to be friendly, however, it's imperative to maintain a professional role as an educator while doing this. For some students, I may be the only educated professional in their life and it will be important to be a good model of this.

                              The relationships will begin on the first day and grow throughout the school year. It will be important to show the same enthusiasm with ALL students. While there will be students that are easier to build relationships with, I will need to find something in every student that appeals to me and build on it. It's detrimental to a student when he/she feels that a teacher doesn't care for them and I will strive to see the worth in every boy and girl.

                              I agree with what Tracie said about body language. I am a person who wears my heart on my sleeve and it's not hard to see that something is bothering me. This is going to be my biggest challenge. I need to master the "poker-face" and not let my students know I am frazzled. However, I think that it's okay, to some degree, for students to see that you're human. Students need to know that we are just people, like them. A balance of all of this, in my opinion, will make great teacher.

                              • Mar 31, 2016 5:48pm

                                I agree with what Tina states. It is extremely important to accept every single student as they are. I believe this is the first step to building good rapport. When a student knows they are entering a judge-free zone, it helps their comfort level. The more comfortable a student is around you, the better the relationship. It is also important to keep a healthy balance involving professionalism. In my experience dealing with kids I find it easiest to be upfront with them. This way they understand that no one will be given special treatment. Being involved beyond the classroom is another great way to build a great rapport. When a student sees that you care about them as a whole they will respect you. ASK QUESTIONS! Try to understand who the student is, so you will understand their needs.

                                • Mar 31, 2016 7:42pm

                                  I also agree that clear expectations are an essential component to building rapport with students, but more importantly, I believe there needs to be consistency when enforcing those expectations. New teachers should not to confuse being friendly with students with being their friend. One of the fears new teachers may have is whether or not students are going to like them. In an effort to gain acceptance from students, they may become lax in administering consequences when students fail to meet classroom expectations. Maintaining consistency, no matter the situation, circumstance, or student(s), is vital to the teacher student relationship as it serves as a constant reminder of the roles of both the teacher and student(s).

                                  Balancing friendliness while maintaining professional distance can be challenging, but when the roles of the teacher and student(s) are clearly defined and understood, it is less difficult. To add to all the great examples mentioned in previous posts, new teachers can build rapport and exhibit friendliness to students is by sharing certain aspects about their lives with students. Just as teachers want to know about their students’ lives, students want to know about their teachers lives (in moderation) outside of school.

                                  • Apr 7, 2016 9:09am

                                    Building rapport while maintaining professional distance can seem difficult, especially for a new teacher. One important detail I find helpful to remember in regards to building rapport, is to be cautious not to show favoritism. While each student is different, and all need to be addressed according to their unique personality and abilities, teachers try to treat each student with the same amount of friendliness and respect. In a student's eyes, if a teacher does not treat each student in the same manner, he or she may feel the teacher has "favorites". This "favorites" mindset may undermine the teacher's main goal to build rapport with the students. This is one of the main areas of concern when establishing rapport with students, in my opinion.

                                    • Apr 8, 2016 7:43pm

                                      I think everyone has given you some really great responses! I actually haven't started teaching yet, but I have actually been asking this question to a lot of teachers recently. I want to have a good relationship with my students, still maintain authority. My favorite teacher of all time said he does two things to create a great relationship with his students. 1. He learns all of their names. 2. Shows them respect. Every student adored this teacher and felt valued.